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Alta-Bingham is a primo lid-lifter

SHARE Alta-Bingham is a primo lid-lifter

Bingham coach Dave Peck knows that in the grand scheme of things, tonight's endowment game with Alta doesn't mean much. It has absolutely no bearing on the region standings, and is therefore irrelevant when it comes to state tournament seeding. After all, Bingham beat Alta in last year's season opener, yet it was Alta playing in the state semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium, not Bingham.

Despite all that, Peck knows tonight's game should be exciting.

"I think in football, of all of the sports, every game is an event," said Peck. "In football there's only 10 games, so every one is important and huge, whether it's a league game or not. You can remember almost every one of your football games when you graduate."

Even though it's only opening night, this particular Bingham-Alta game is worthy of being labeled one of the best in 2006.

Bingham checks in at No. 2 in the Class 5A preseason rankings, while Alta is ranked 5th — even though many coaches believe they're the two most skilled teams in the state.

For Peck, he loves the challenge.

"Every year I've been a head coach, I've tried to line up a real hard game," he said. "I feel my kids train harder for the game."

Whether or not that hard work pays off remains to be seen.

Alta was arguably the best defense in the state last year, and even though it only returns one starter from that dominant defense, all indications are that the Hawks should be great again. Like last year, Alta's defense is built on speed, and coach Les Hamilton has plenty of that once again.

Linebackers Dave Adams and Chris Bratt will be relied upon heavily to slow down what could be a very formidable Bingham offense.

The Miners return four of their front six from a year ago, which isn't encouraging news for opponents. Bingham's Jonathan Cuff was one of the most feared backs in the state last year running behind those lineman. This year it's Doug Fiefia's turn to potentially shine.

Defensively, Bingham should be dominant again. The Miners only surrendered 12.5 points per game last year, which was actually better than Alta's 16.6 average.

A year later, both defenses appear to great again, and it's the perfect way to kick off the 2006 season.

"We're excited about it. It's a big game for both teams," said Peck.

There are 41 other endowment football games across the state tonight, several of which could be as exciting as Bingham-Alta. Highland visits Mountain Crest in a rematch of last year's 4A championship, while Grand hosts San Juan in a rematch of the 2A title game.

Other intriguing games are: East at Northridge, Hunter at Logan, Hurricane at Millard, Lone Peak at Bountiful and Viewmont at Orem.

BREAKING THEM IN: Of the 93 high school football teams in Utah, 15 are under the direction of new head coaches this year. That's the least coaching turnover since 2002, when there were only 11 coaching changes.

Of the 15 coaches, 11 are first-time head coaches.

Here's a breakdown of the 15 new coaches: Billy Pluim (Clearfield), Ryan Bullett (Brighton), Bill Cosper (Kearns), Matt Christensen (Spanish Fork), Brad Molen (Timpanogos), Matt Williams (Bonneville), Rod Bockwoldt (Roy), Brody Benson (Highland), J.P. Salisbury (Carbon), Jim Jones (Emery), Kevin Dickson (Uintah), Dennis Dalton (Ogden), Ron Olsen (American Leadership), Daniel Zabriskie (Altamont), Henry Lusk (Layton Christian).

THE WAITING GAME: Granite High School isn't playing football for the first time in 99 years, but that doesn't mean the lights will be turned off this season at the Farmers' old stomping grounds.

Judge Memorial High School will play three games at Granite this season, including tonight's season opener against North Sanpete. Judge's new football stadium, which includes an artificial surface, won't be ready until its homecoming game against Union on Sept. 29.

The Bulldogs' other two scheduled games at Granite are Aug. 26 against Bishop Kelly, Idaho, and Sept. 15 against Park City.

MILESTONES: Box Elder, Grantsville and Springville are celebrating their 90th seasons of prep football, while Highland is entering its 50th season . . . Even though Ogden has been playing football since 1898 and North Summit since 1926, tonight's game is the inaugural match-up between the two schools . . . There are three other first-time match-ups tonight, Ben Lomond at Juab, Judge vs. North Sanpete and Hunter at Logan . . . Lone Peak's Monte Morgan is gunning for his 100th career coaching victory.

E-mail: jedward@desnews.com